Monday, November 17, 2008

What a difference 6 months makes...

Here's a graph of my weekly mileage for 2008 to date.

This chart is a feature of, one of the best online sites I've seen for logging runs. Anyway, what should be obvious in the chart is the difference between my mileage for the first half of the year, and my mileage from June on (and especially after August, when I decided to take my injury seriously).

If you know me or have followed this blog, you know I started the year with some big goals. This was going to be a breakout year for me. I set PRs in almost every race I ran for the first half of the year. But then I jumped into the Old Dominion 100 a bit under-prepared. I had a fantastic race (sub 24 hours, top-ten finish) in brutal conditions (99-degrees that afternoon), and I am very glad I did it. I would never give up the exhilaration of racing for that buckle.


It came at a cost. After the OD100, I was mentally and physically broken. What I lacked in motivation I made up for in tendinitis. I went from averaging 50 miles per week to struggling to find excuses to run at all. From June to August I tried to push it too far too soon, and I paid for that too. In fact, I still am to some degree.

But you know what? So what if I missed Mountain Masochist (A race I absolutely despise due to the early start and the logistics of getting to and from the start/finish). So what if I missed the inaugural Grindstone. Those races mean nothing to me. What really bothers me is that finishing another Hellgate is in jeopardy. I've enjoyed five successful years there. Without a doubt some of the most memorable moments in my ultrarunning career happened there. I recall spending hours on that course with some of my dearest ultra friends Dan Lehmann, Mike Day, Cat Phillips, Kevin Townsend, Doug Blackford, and too many others to name. And finishing every year to find my wife and son waiting for me, it's more than any man deserves.

I am not ready to give that up. I will not give that up.

I have my work cut out for me between now and December 13. But I am willing to give it every ounce of passion I have. The reward is there, all I need to do is run smart and claim it. And that's exactly what I plan to do. Just before midnight on a cold December night, I'll stand at that gate one more time, shivering with anticipation as we pray and sing the National Anthem. Then, with the shout "Go!" and a chorus of nervous cheers, I will join 120 others and run into the darkness.

To be continued...


Rick Gray said...

Now that is the Neal we know. See you at the GATE and we will all share a shiver! Rick

Sophie Speidel said...

Awww yeah it's your birthday
we're gonna party
cuz it's your birthday

(that's what my daughter sings when she's happy).

See you on the 12th! (the day after my birthday---let's party to the top of Headforemost, eh)?